Since Macs don’t have a PrintScreen button like in Windows, many Mac beginners don’t know how to take a screenshot on Mac. In fact, this is simple, and there are even several ways to do the task. But first, let’s see what each symbol and key means:
⇧ – Shift
⌘ – Command
^ – Control
⌥ – Option (Alt in Windows)
⇥ – Tab
⌫ – Delete
⌤ – Enter
⎋ – Escape
←↑→↓ – Arrow Keys
fn – Function key
⏎ – Return
⇪ – Caps Lock
1. Key shortcuts to take a screenshot on Mac
MacOS provides hotkeys to carry out any action and system task. When you use them, the speed of your work on a Mac increases significantly.
Shift + Command + 3 – take a shot of a full Desktop screen.
Shift + Command + 4 – take a screenshot of a certain area (choose with a mouse) of your Desktop.
Shift + Command + 4 + Space – take a screenshot of a certain window of the Desktop.
If you need to copy the screenshot to the clipboard for further insertion into any graphics or text editor, use the following hotkeys:
Shift + Command +3 + Control – save a screenshot of a full Desktop to the Clipboard.
Shift + Command + 4 + Control – save a screenshot of a certain area (choose with a mouse) to the Clipboard.
Shift + Command + 4 + Space + Control – save a screenshot of a certain Window to the Clipboard.
Then press Command + V to paste the picture. You can also do this via the Menu → Edit → Paste.
2. How to take screenshots on Mac with Grab
If you are used to performing tasks with a mouse and don’t like remembering keyboard shortcuts, you can use a standard macOS Grab. Find it via Spotlight or in the Launchpad.
Grab is extremely simple to use; however, it has a wide range of functions. Here are the main ones.
As you can see, it’s simple. There are four modes of “shooting,” each of which provides shortcuts:
Shift + Command + A – Selection (take a screenshot of the selected area)
Shift + Command + W – Window (take a screenshot of any of the currently open windows)
Command + Z – Screen (take a screenshot of the entire screen)
Shift + Command + Z – Timed Screen (take a screenshot of the entire screen timer)
After a screenshot is made, the Grab window will appear with a screenshot. Now you can save it in the right folder.
It should also be noted that Grab can work with several screenshots; it is possible to take several screenshots, and then compare them and choose the best one. Grab also lets you copy your images to the clipboard by pressing Command + C.
3. Changing screenshots settings with Terminal commands*
- When you make a screenshot, by default it is saved to the desktop. You can change the location for storing the screenshots via Terminal. Go to Applications →Utilities → Terminal and use the following command:
Defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Pictures
Here ~/Pictures is the path to the folder.
Defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop
- By default all screenshots’ names start with “Screenshot” You can change the screenshots’ names via the following commands:
Defaults write com.apple.screencapture name “the desired name”
Here the “desired name” is the name of a new image.
Defaults write com.apple.screencapture name “Screenshot”
- You can even change the screenshot file format. By default, Mac saves the screenshots in PNG. To change it, use the command:
Defaults write com.apple.screencapture type format
The “format” may be one of the following: jpg, tiff, pdf, png, bmp.
*Here you can find more useful Terminal Commands for Mac.
That’s all. Hope you got all the information you needed about how to take screenshots on Mac with built-in system tools. There are also lots of great third-party programs for this task; however, most Mac users are satisfied with the ways described above. And our last piece of advice: Remove unneeded screenshots regularly, as each of the files may take more than 1 MB of memory.
As a result, your disk may contain gigabytes of unused image files. You can also check your disk usage and find the biggest files and folders with a utility Disk Expert. Find out how by clicking on the link how to check disk space on Mac.